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The Journalism Accelerator’s (JA’s) blog reports on a broad range of experiments unfolding in the field. Evolving daily, news and community publishers across journalism networks share much common ground, but have unique brands and market challenges. Posting content on the beat of news, we’re excited by the passion of publishers and hope to document some of the creative ways the business of news continues to re-imagine itself. The blog offers a range of feature content, much of it our reporting out to you what we’re learning from our experimentation across the JA. We think of the blog, related resources and featured items as compost that we hope helps fuel experiments, cross pollinating innovation and emerging practices with the wisdom of the field to seed new ideas.

Engagement is not a spectator sport: Value of Local TV Report 2

Journalism Accelerator

Each JA forum comes to life through a community outreach campaign. In this post, we show how we do this engagement work. We hope you might be able to mulch some of this back into your own work – that this behind-the-scenes view inspires your own ideas on how to deepen your community relationships.

First, we try to anticipate how to enrich your experience, both as we invite you to participate and during the forum. We’re going to show you our “stack” in this post. That’s a little bit of tech speak – and more simple than sexy. The stack, as we refer to it, means getting the right combination of people and software that enables community idea exchange and collaboration.

This is our second report analyzing the JA’s recent forum on the value of local TV news. Last week we covered our preparation – “why” we put on that particular conversation– and our performance. This report offers the “how” – our methodology to deliver online engagement. The final report will explore a set of tangible artifacts, or “what” we’ve distilled from the conversation, a look to what’s next. (more…)

Election 2012: Are local publishers the secret weapon?

Vermont election coverage courtesy of

Vermont election coverage courtesy of

What kind of 2012 election coverage do you want to bring your readers? Next week the JA presents a curated online forum designed to help maximize the yield of local election coverage by exploring tools, techniques and collaborations aimed at deeper community engagement. We’ll talk about money tooadvertisers are increasingly training their campaign dollar eyes online, and some non-profit journalism sites that won’t touch any ads are having trouble getting tax-exempt status.

Vermont Digger’s Anne Galloway experimented last year, creating a special election section and using Cover It Live to feed information from everywhere to Digger readers. She told me the site:

…got a huge response – now other news sites in the state are using it. We ended up with two times as many people on our site that night as usual. And it was really fun!

She also remembers:

It was a huge amount of effort – we were up late and worked our asses off.

For many publishers, elections are an opportunity to cement their roles and relationships within their community. Even national races can turn on local attitudes, and elections showcase the need for accurate, easily available information. What you know – or don’t – when you cast your ballot on Election Day can affect things that touch you directly every day. Things like roads, schools, water bills, parks, health care, and government integrity. (more…)

JA reports: The Value of Local TV News forum goals and performance

Journalism Accelerator

A central part of the JA’s mission is to gather voices together online around common questions news producers share. Community needs and JA program values guide our work hosting forums. These values include a high degree of transparency and accountability to you and the growing JA community, because we believe it’s valuable to share what we are learning. We do this by pointing to ideas, trends and emerging patterns, tools and lessons that you as publishers may find useful, or techniques and innovations you share with us.

Here we offer an analysis of our recent forum on the value of local TV news. This first piece covers the “why” behind this particular forum, plus an overview of performance. The next report offers the “how” – our methodology to deliver online engagement. The last post explores a set of tangible artifacts we’ve distilled from the conversation, and touches on what’s next.

As the first large scale JA forum, this was an exciting experiment in many ways. 140 comments later, what are the practical and anecdotal takeaways? We share the context and results of our approach, our goals and our model for online engagement in the hope it may be useful to you. (more…)

Login, profiles and authentication: JanRain, the Journalism Accelerator and you

Journalism Accelerator

Transparency around how we are tackling technology, building community and enabling connection is a core value of the Journalism Accelerator. Our intention is to clarify the thinking behind the JA’s authentication process, so you can feel informed in your decision to participate on the site. And be comfortable knowing what information you are sharing with the JA when you join the community. When you join the Journalism Accelerator community, we ask you to share who you are. Some members have asked about our thinking behind that. We believe how you technically connect to this website affects how you connect as a person to the living, breathing community the site gathers and reflects. We asked our technology advisor Jeff Lennan to tell you more about the login system we use and why. (more…)

The Seattle Interactive Conference: Jacob Caggiano’s big questions

In my first post on the Seattle Interactive Conference, I went over some locally developed tools designed to make information more relevant and insightful. Mobile apps like Trover, which allows geo-discovery through photos, and Evri, which organizes ~15,000 news feeds into a friendly iPad interface, are useful on an individual level. But my concern is:

How can they scale to community heights when it comes to breaking, spreading, and contextualizing important public information?

Scale to community heights

Technology scales best when community needs come first. Photo by Lisa Skube.

This is not an easy question. To help answer it, I needed to figure out how the mobile sausage is made. So at SIC, I tracked down John SanGiovanni, co-founder of and product design VP for the Zumobi mobile network. It would be wrong to call Zumobi an “ad network,” because while they do serve ads to mobile devices, they also design and build the apps on which the ads run. Right now its “co-publishing network” is being used by some of the biggest heavy hitters in the content world, with clients that range from MSNBC and The Week magazine, to Popular Science, Good Housekeeping, Parenting Magazine, and Motor Trend.

The good news is that SanGiovanni happily reported financial success on the journalism side of their business. He said their MSNBC app is “a whale” (very profitable) and both the advertisers and the publisher (MSNBC) are happy with the model they’ve set up. It’d be hard not to be, because Zumobi designs and builds the app absolutely free of charge to publishers whom they choose to work with. The company also helps with some of the ad sales, but as a co-publishing network, they expect the publisher to already have a drawer full of dedicated advertisers.

The not-so-good news is that Zumobi only works with top tier clients and doesn’t have plans to scale down their model to independent and hyperlocal publishers. SanGiovanni assured me he’s a big fan of Maple Leaf Life and cares about supporting grassroots journalism, but it’s just not in the cards for Zumobi right now. The company prefers to swim with bigger fish. (more…)

Meet Denise Cheng, new JA editor for research and outreach

About Denise

Denise Cheng joins the JA from Michigan, where she’s been practicing deep hyperlocal journalism. As the citizen journalism coordinator for the Grand Rapids Community Media Center, she also reported and edited copy for The Rapidian, a local news site. She has taught social media and digital story telling at Portland Community Media in Oregon, and served as a Peace Corps small business advisor in Lesotho. Denise graduated from Miami University with an interdisciplinary degree in Global and Cultural Journalism, Italian, and political science.

Two and a half years ago, I uprooted from Portland, Oregon, to embark on an adventure launching a hyperlocal, citizen-authored news source called The Rapidian. Beginning in college and over my career, I’ve been drawn to wise owls who steer participatory media outfits. I have come to believe that media creation has the power to fuse people and their networks to information, and to increase the likelihood they will act in their communities.

This is important. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I saw emerging communities misunderstood and misrepresented by media inside and outside the country. That intensified tension between groups and nipped compassion from outside of the country. As the daughter of immigrants, I saw the link that native language news networks can provide to those who never feel exactly at home. When communities form, the participants are no longer detached individuals swallowed up in the crowd; they can determine what is meaningful within their own communities.

I saw this at The Rapidian. In my goodbye editorial, I remember a few transformations I was privileged to witness, including “a woman who practiced in front of a mirror to find her voice in front of a camera, people who have never been invited to create media realizing that their perspectives meant something to people they had never met.” I also explained why I’m comfortable moving on. “It’s tempting to stay where you are when you’re content, but that’s the best time to push onward and open up.”

I didn’t explain where I was going, but I’ll let you in on the secret: I’m coming right here to this very URL. In mid-November, I’ll be starting as the JA’s research and outreach editor. My primary focus at the JA will combine many of my faves: building community among journalism practitioners for a stronger media ecosystem. I fully believe that by doing so, we can better serve other communities and help them emerge. We can help people connect to one another through information. (more…)

The Seattle Interactive Conference: Jacob Caggiano reports

Journalists have always covered the tech industry as a section of the newspaper, but now, due to the personal media explosion, the very existence of the trade is dependent on conversations and decisions that happen at events like this year’s Seattle Interactive Conference.

About Jacob

Jacob Caggiano writes about his “healthy obsession” with communicating online, and more, at  He has worked with innovative groups like the Knight-Mozilla Partnership, Journalism that Matters, and the Washington News Council. He helped create the Seattle Journalism Commons, and co-organized the 2011 Open Video Conference in New York City.

#SIC2011 had many of the same trimmings as the now messianic #SXSWi (South By Southwest Interactive). The obligatory cute cartoon logos, fancy afterparties, overt corporate sponsorship, installation exhibits, free marketing schwag, and custom smartphone app were all part of the $300+ ticket, a tad steep for your average journalist trying to get a bite on how to stay alive.

So how does this deliver in terms of fulfilling the “information needs of a community?”

First let’s talk mobile. “Social/Local/Mobile” #SoLoMo was the expression I picked up from Jason Karas of Seattle startup Trover, who put up some interesting stats on rapid mobile adoption:

  • 350 million people are using Facebook through their phones
  • 4 billionTwitter posts come from phones each month (maybe not all through smartphones)
  • 1 billion photos are shared through phones each month (not clear if this is the entire web, or just social media)
  • 1 billion Foursquare checkins have been logged to date

What’s more interesting is the motivation behind the SoLoMo phenomenon. The Location Based Marketing Association has research that breaks down the motivations of early adopters: (more…)

Forum First Takes: Local TV News

Got more to say about the value and potential of local TV news?

The forum remains open. For some starter background, read this interview with Mark Platte, news director of Hawaii News Now, and this interview with Josh Stearns and Libby Reinish of Free Press/Change the Channels campaign.

Last week we asked you: What is the value of local TV news? How can communities up their yield and maximize return from this powerful and well branded medium? What are the risks of major changes like station consolidation or pay-for-play ads? What innovations in local television news hold the most promise?

Passion was clearly present as the forum kicked off over the past week. Bringing together a broad mix of voices, an active exchange of ideas, and an appreciation for each other’s points of view, we hope this conversation has broadened the frame and enriched the discussion across journalism communities.

The forum will stay open for more discussion. Because you connect using your Facebook, Google, LinkedIn or Twitter account in order to comment, participants in the conversation are identified by their real identities and it is far more difficult for spammers or anonymous trolls to detract from an effective discussion. (more…)

Jacob Caggiano to report on the Seattle Interactive Conference for JA

Seattle Interactive ConferenceSeattle local and friend of JA Jacob Caggiano of Future Soup will be covering Seattle’s Interactive Conference unfolding over the course of today and tomorrow. He’ll be tweeting out to you all on the things he sees and learns. In particular, he’ll share insight on how technology is being applied in new and innovative ways to inspire community and build new business.

The theme for this year’s event is Transformations: Interactive technology has already transformed how we experience our everyday lives, both at work and play, yet there are profound new levels of transformation upon us — some good, some bad, and some yet to be determined.  This is not your run-of-the-mill conference with rote demos and blind optimism.  SIC provides a comprehensive and invigorating forum to anticipate and navigate the many opportunities and challenges yet to come.” (Source

Transformation across the field of news and reporting couldn’t be more relevant day in and day out for the JA community. This conference holds great promise for us to unearth new resources and methods others are using to optimize their content and deepen their connections with loyal customers. Jacob will be tweeting and crafting a couple of blog posts that you’ll see here. The JA team is also eager to harvest new ideas and resources that we’ll plug in to our site resource section for you all to leverage. The SIC panels offer a great mix of expertise. Jacob will be attending a specific line up of panels we’ve mapped out with the most application to journalism, distribution, search, social triggers, engagement, location based technology and more.

Update: Jacob’s reports are in! Hear the SIC buzz about mobile and see a couple new tools Jacob spotted at the Seattle Interactive Conference. Also: Scaling mobile to hyperlocal and an eye on industry attitudes toward data portability.

Local TV News: The beauty of immediacy

Journalism Accelerator

Despite the proliferation of online sources, most Americans still rely on the TV when they want local news. In Hawaii, Mark Platte plays a big role in creating that local news. As news director of Hawaii News Now, Platte oversees newscasts on three of the five stations with local newscasts.

We  found Mark when we began poking into our current forum question: What is the value of local TV news? During this time of consolidation, downsizing, and in some cases outsourcing reporting, how has local TV changed to interact with local communities? How can people maximize what they get from this powerful medium with its known brands? What are the risks of major changes like station consolidation or pay-for-play ads? What innovations in local television news hold the most promise?  (more…)

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